“As sacred keepers of the honey bee, Apis Mellifera, we honor every individual bee, the hive as a collective, the apiary, and the Earth.  It is in this spirit that we seek to study and relate to the honeybee; nature’s greatest emissary.” 
-From the College of the Melissae Mission Statement


Bees at the College of the Melissae

We’re pleased to add another like-minded institution to our list of collaborators for The Fifth Sacred Thing film. The College of the Melissae, of Ashland, OR, is a real-life home for the anthropological study of beekeeping. Combining workshops, lectures and online study, the College curriculum deeply educates on the basics of beekeeping, but also examines its mystical, sacred tradition and practice.

Students of the program learn bee fundamentals such as hive dynamics and native-species pollinators, but the College (subtitled “The Center for Sacred Beekeeping”) has a much larger aim: to build a bridge that connects modern beekeeping spiritually and materially to Earth’s future 300 years from today.

Class in session

The curriculum is heavily rooted in deep spiritual traditions, such as exploratory sound and drumming, the making and sharing of sacred bee art, and ceremonial/ritual beekeeping practices. To document and share localized bee culture, its students will engage in the creation of regional paper journals of ephemera, writings, and drawings to document and preserve current traditions around beekeeping for sharing with other regions and future generations.

Laura Ferguson (aka Laura Bee), Director of the College, started the project 1 year ago with just two hundred dollars; today, the school has six instructors and an extensive online curriculum. They’ve been using Starhawk’s Empowerment Manual for second-year students to work on group process and leadership skills.

An instructor removes a super.

Students locally and across the US and Canada are registered for the next “Melissae Track” session, which begins on Feb 9 (with registration open through March), and will receive much of the curriculum through online technological resources and mail packages.

Laura sees her work with the bees as second-generation offspring of Starhawk’s teachings, and says that her exposure to that inspiration was key to her decision to pursue this path. “She brought me into adulthood with her work, and really helped form my self-identity in terms of being connected to ancient traditions, and being a leader even though I didn’t feel like I fit into a normal context.”

Notably, the College curriculum includes a requirement that students stay rooted in environmental activism and connect with mentors at local bee clubs, to establish the College of the Melissae community as a connected, relevant cultural voice.  They will also offer pollination services to area organic farms, in hopes of anchoring the Sacred with real world applications.

We’re excited to add Laura Bee and the College of The Melissae to our list of conspirators and collaborators on the TFST film project, and are eager to see what unfolds from this connection. If you’re interested in more information about the College’s program, visit their website at collegeofthemelissae.com or download the College of the Melissae; Program Overview 2013,

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6 Responses to College of the Melissae: The Center for Sacred Beekeeping

  1. Dharman Rice says:

    Wish there had been this sort of program when I was actively keeping honey bees as a farmsteader back in the ’70s and ’80s. I was fortunate to have learned about beekeeping from some counter-cultural beekeepers, but it would have been interesting and useful to have a perspective such as that of the College of the Melissae.

  2. Annie Ocean says:

    My best friend has breast cancer. Her womyn Naturopathic Oncologist prescribed Apis for pain and said to use the honey bees as an aid in her chemotherapy treatment, “visualize the chemo as honey” or royal jelly or Apis. Envision the bees as your Spirit Helpers.

  3. This is wonder-full! Wish I lived closer to Ashland so I could study w/ the Melissas!

  4. I am in a vocal and instrumental group that performs Ancient Agricultural Dances and songs. Among our repertoire is a ‘HoneyBee Blessing’ song that I learned from the Bistrica Babis on a trip to Bulgaria in 2006. We have performed for many Honey Bee Blessings, at Slow Food San Francisco, The Melissa Garden in Healdsburg, The Heirloom Festival in Santa Rosa, Sol Fest, and for public education. There is a clip on YouTube called ‘ An Evening in Honor of the Sacred HoneyBee’. Would love to come and sing for your Bees one Day!
    Jana/for Gradina and The Melissae Ensemble

  5. I have a new nonfiction book soon-to-be-published called, “Myth Busting Facts About Bees and How to Grow a Bee Garden in 10 Easy Steps,” By Honeycomb Goddess Catherine Garvin

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